Not a Dumping Ground: Home to Green Turtles
Did you know that green sea turtle is one of the endangered species Aquameridian has been fighting to protect? Every year between April and October, green sea turtles would return to Sham Wan (turtle cove) on Lamma Island, the only nesting site in Hong Kong identified as Site of Special Scientific Interest and also a Restricted Area under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170), to lay eggs. In this video, Aquameridian captured the mesmerizing moments of green turtles nesting in Sham Wan back to 2012 (almost 10 year ago!).
Not long ago, we’re appalled to learn that construction (public works programme no.: 5824CL/B) of a new marine contaminated sediment disposal facility to the west of Lamma Island was ratified by the government in September 2022, despite the backlash against the proposal from local residents, fishermen’s organizations and various stakeholders in fishing industry. The new facility is believed to relieve the hard-pressed capacity of two existing contaminated sediment disposal facilities, including the east of Sha Chau and the south of The Brothers.
The impacts of the dredging project on water quality, habitat and marine ecology, according to the environmental impact assessment (EIA), were only temporary, and detrimental impacts to nearby water quality and its habitat such as beaches, fish culture zones and marine ecology, were not expected. But, to the contrary, the selected site, as indicated in the map below, is situated near Hung Shing Ye Beach and Lo So Shing Beach, and is just well slightly above Sham Wan, where green seas turtles come back every year to the beach of their birth.
In addition to the new contaminated disposal facility are two operating waste transfer facilities in Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan since 2020. This means that the new facility will add extra contamination and pollution burden on Lamma Island.
It concerns us whether we’ll get to see green sea turtles again in Hong Kong. Before we forget the face of this majestic beauty, let’s take a look at some fun facts about green sea turtles:
Marine conservation is a warfare
One way Aquameridian has been successfully working to protect our planet’s blue lung is to raise awareness for marine protection and lobby Hong Kong law makers for the importance of sustainable development of coastal areas by pushing the Hope Spot agenda through to extend the protection of local marine parks, including Cape D’Aguilar.
We were awed, as we read in the news that the government considered the detonation would not affect the coastal reserve. Therefore, we research into what a detonation really looks like and the extent of destruction an explosive of 226 kilograms of TNT could possibly cause.
In the below video, the scientists demonstrated in a laboratory test what happened when a bomb exploded and the devastating effects it caused at a close-range. We might not be able to see the huge fireball and all the smoke coming under the waters of Cape D’Aguilar, but we could at least visualize, how the blast wave from the explosive spread into the area around it and what a typical shock wave looks like, and that helps us imagine the amount of pressure being exerted over targets close to it within a very short period of time.
15 Groovy Facts about Green Sea Turtles
- Green turtles are ancient species as old as dinosaurs dated back 120 million years What sets them apart is the uncommon courage of green turtles attests to the survival of the fittest.
- Green turtles are one of the world seven species of sea turtles. The other six are: leatherback, loggerhead, flatback, hawksbill , Kemp’s ridley and olive ridley.
- A typical green turtle adult is 3 to 4 feet long and weighs 300 to 350 pounds.
- Green turtles are found primarily in subtropical and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, and in the Mediterranean Sea.
- If green turtles are threatened, they cannot pull their limbs and head inside their shells. Instead, they’ll show you their grumpy-looking face and bite you.
- Their limbs are flippers that are adapted for swimming rather than walking on land. Every step they take on land is a big leap of faith at their peril.
- As your parents name you for a reason, green turtles are named for the greenish color of their cartilage and fat under the shell.
- Green turtles turn into vegetarian when they’ve become adults. They like eating sea grasses, algae and sea weeds.
- Green turtles rely on Earth’s magnetic field (or what we call autopilot mode) to navigate and find their way back home – the beach of their birth – to nest and lay eggs.
- When female green turtles reach 20 to 30 years old, they’re sexually mature and ready to mate and lay eggs until the age of 80.
- Female green turtles lay 75-200 eggs at a time. However sadly, only 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 can survive to adulthood and come back to their breeding ground to lay eggs. Those who survive and return home can be called marine treasures.
- The sex of green turtles is determined by the temperature of the nest. Higher temperatures, say 31 degree Celsius or over, produce more female hatchlings, while cooler nests produce more males.
- Baby green turtles once hatched have to escape natural predators like birds, crabs, raccoons and foxes and make a dangerous dash back to the ocean.
- Few green turtles survive to adulthood. Their lifespan is estimated to be at least 70 years up to 100 years.
- Major threats facing green turtles: fishing by-catch, vessel strikes, loss of habitat, killing & stealing eggs, ocean pollution, marine refuse and debris, climate change etc.
 Sea Turtle Fact Sheet. (2020, June 17). PBS: USA https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/blog/sea-turtle-fact-sheet/
 Green Turtle. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: USA https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/green-turtle#:~:text=Green%20turtles%20are%20the%2 0largest,yellow%2Dto%2Dwhite%20underside.